MENTAL HEALTH: Report Accuses Agency of Misspent Funds
A leading advocacy group says that the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has "failed in its primary mission to support research into schizophrenia, manic-depressive illness and other severe mental illnesses," USA Today reports. In a report to be released today, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill said in a "rare public criticism" of the agency's budget priorities that NIMH spends more on AIDS than on schizophrenia and supports "too much study of arcane topics such as aggression in bluebirds and social change in Czechoslovakia." Dr. Steven Hyman, the director of NIMH, contends that much of the contested spending is directed by Congress or involves "important basic research," but conceded, "I agree that we were remiss in these areas. We are not simply promising, but moving to rectify this" (Sternberg, USA Today, 12/6). Study co-author Dr. E. Fuller Torrey said, "NIMH is not doing what it is supposed to do. Their priorities are completely sideways." The report found that NIMH spent more researching AIDS ($60.2 million) than on schizophrenia ($57.1 million). Roughly 5.6 million Americans suffer from schizophrenia while fewer than 1 million are infected by the AIDS virus. Moreover, the mental health institute's budget spent only 12% of its money on "actual clinical and treatment research of severe mental illness" (Recer, AP/Boston Globe, 12/06). Regarding the agency's failure to devote more spending to research, Torrey said, "The NIMH has lost its way in the research woods" (AP/Washington Times, 12/06).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.